That epic dialogue of Ramadhir Singh from the movie that deserves nomination in the Academy awards for the most kickass dialogues (if they have a category like this, like the ones we have: Kamla Pasand presents most dhaansu dialogue of the year brought to you by Birla White Wall Care Putty, Papdi ki Chhutti…), always makes me nod my head in agreement.
“Jab tak is des me सनिमा hai, log चूतिए bante rahenge”
Little did the old man know that not all the people exploit coal miners and destroy families to make a living, some people work hard to make good सनिमा for us. Whereas most of us go to an air-conditioned cubicle and spend our day staring at a screen and wondering if there is a better career in strip-dancing than content writing. In the age of Marketing, sometimes you have to sell your soul to become a Ghost
Five months back when I was writing the last exam paper of my final year, I had no idea what I am going to do after this. I stopped writing and put my pen down. I looked around, it’s always satisfying to watch the next generation of responsible tax-payers in making. To watch them spilling out answers and filling dozens of pages in fear of the inevitable, ‘Log Kya Kahenge?’. Well, some of them are rather greedy but let’s just boycott them and talk about mere mortals like me and the guy who writes ‘ॐ’ on the top of the answer sheet. The first fifteen years of my life I’d spent learning just about everything, from absurd arithmetic to Akbar’s family background, from Alexander the Great to the Alexander the Graham Bell, to the guy who said that we were Apes in the past. After finishing school I had my first existential crisis when I was made to choose between subjects that I want to study and the subjects that I will mock for the rest of my life for being not tough enough and its students for being so dumb, ugly and Chartered Accountant. Once you get into high school, things are different but if you don’t make the selection wisely, she will come for you. How many times do you need to be betrayed and left alone to die in a corner bleeding alphas, gammas and sine and cos from your nostrils to realize that she hates you? That fat 500-paged Maths book of high school I carried everywhere for two years keeping it close to my heart, every time I opened it she looked straight into my eyes and grinned slyly. She enters your life innocently, with just numbers and angles and curves, looking so innocuous. Gradually she steps into your syllabus, then your life and then your worst nightmares and then she stabs you in the back and punches you in the throat at the end of the year. SCREW MATHEMATICS!
Three years back I had the liberty to decide the course that will eventually decide the brand of my car and help me find the mother of my kids, so to un-math my life I went with Mass Communication and Journalism. Three years later, I’m sitting in the examination hall, estimating the price of my kidneys. A shiver ran through my spine and I came back to the dark reality. I took up my pen, did some arm-stretching and knuckle cracking and started completing my already three-pages long answer to ‘Describe the steps involving an Ad-campaign’, repeating the same keywords ‘effective’, ‘efficient’ and ‘significant’ in every sentence.
One month later, it happened. I was summoned to the director’s office and briefed about the film. I was handed a roughly made script which looked like it had been blatantly drafted like a phone directory on an excel sheet by a three-year-old. I was also told that the latter half of the movie is going to be based on a Mythological story so the dialogues need to be in शुद्ध हिन्दी. Six days of incessant mugging, I drafted the screenplay. There wasn’t much that needed to be done with the dialogues from the first half, just a few dialogues that crossed the threshold of being cringey. I penned them down in a separate sheet. The other half I had to re-write entirely because I didn’t want Satyug people to sound like my neighbor. The Hindization of the script was done, finally, I handed them the complete screenplay of the movie. I had taken the artistic liberty to change some dialogues and they liked my work.
When the shooting began, being the Script Supervisor I basically had to make sure that everything goes by the script. I used to break down the script to the artists, make them rehearse it and listen to the dialogues while filming to ensure that no lines are missed. I also had to play and pause the music sometimes while shooting for a song when there is a shortage of crew. Filmmaking is a different world altogether. Once you witness a film being made, your perception of movies will change, you start to notice the little things, and most of all you start to appreciate shots and scenes more even though they may appear ordinary to many people, because you can now estimate the amount of effort that was required to pull that off. A day before the shoot, we were moved into a hotel, not just any ordinary hotel but a four-star suite, where invisible people take away your clothes, wash them and put them in the closet if you leave them unattended on the floor. With the huge buffet for breakfast, ‘good morning’ WhatsApp greetings started to make sense.
The very next day I realized why the producers tend to be so generous with their team. I realized why donkeys and oxen always look so sad. 15, 16 sometimes even 20 hours of waist breaking hard work, running from the film set to the vanity van and back to the set, dealing with actors who are hell-bent on not memorizing his/her lines. Keeping your eyes and ears wide open for avoiding any oversight errors and again dealing with some more sweaty panic-stricken actors. The buffet tastes ridiculous when you have a car honking and waiting for you at the door and a consistently ringing phone telling you that the call-time for today is 8 am. Every day you put on your damp innerwears and your mean face and walk up to the movie set feeling like ‘Dormammu I’ve come to bargain!’. 15 days down the line I knew I was not going to make it. I started to value my 3-4 hours of sleep time more than everything, hate human interaction and badly miss my bed. First three days I had no idea what the hell is going on, with all that people running around screaming at each other, it pretty much resembled an Indian Wedding. I met a number of interesting people and also came across some scums but largely there were good hard working people who don’t know how to calm down once the shot is ready. Gradually my body adapted, the swollen toes and the short sleeping times started to bother less and I lived the most transformative period of my life.
Three things happened:
- Discipline: 3o days of rigorous drudgery leaves long-lasting marks on your lifestyle. As a result, your willpower grows exponentially. Waking up early and finishing things before deadlines suddenly become your habit, unless you deliberately choose to go back to your early college lifestyle, of finishing one season of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ in one night and messing up with your sleep cycle.
- The Value of Money: Having spent 30 days in a hotel without spending a penny, my Mini Statement doesn’t disappoint me anymore. Besides your savings, the cheque you’ve just earned makes you feel richer than ever.
The film is about to release this November and needless to mention, I’m very excited. It’s not every day you get to see your name on a big screen.
Moral Of The Story: Life is like Filmmaking. Life till graduation is Pre-production when we plan everything and assume life is going to be smooth forever. After Graduation shit happens that you’d never planned of. None of your tricks work out and you panic. Sometimes when things fall into place without much effort, you feel like Donald Trump otherwise there is always a subjugated Lal Krishna Advani feeling coming from the deepest insecurities of your heart. Post-production is post-retirement, when you sit back, take a sip of your tea and comment on the final result ‘Yaar ye shot aur badhiya ho sakta tha!’
PS- Above description of life may vary if you’re an editor, VFX guy or Papa Ki Pari.